Federal Funding of Provincial and Territorial Child Support, Support Enforcement and Child Custody and Access Projects

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

PAA 1: PROJECT COORDINATION

Coordination

Duration
1997-2001
Goal
To coordinate projects and facilitate implementation planning.
Description
The Northwest Territories Department of Justice, Court Services Division, employed a coordinator to manage projects and facilitate planning for implementation of child support guidelines. The coordinator is also the liaison with other jurisdictions, collects data and manages the family law information office in Yellowknife.

PAA 2: FEDERAL-PROVINCIAL-TERRITORIAL CONSULTATIONS ON FAMILY LAW

National Consultations on Custody, Access and Child Support

Duration
2000-2001
Goal
To consult family law professionals and other service providers about child custody and access issues.
Description
The Department of Justice undertook a workshop on June 14, 2001, as part of the national consultations on child support, custody and access. The session was for legal professionals, frontline service providers and advocates.

PAA 3: FAMILY JUSTICE ENHANCEMENTS AND INNOVATIONS

Investigation/Action Clerk

Duration
1998-2001
Goal
To provide public information and perform a variety of administrative and service tasks.
Description
The Court Services Division employs an investigation/action clerk (Family/Civil Law Information Officer) to staff an information and public service office located in the Yellowknife courthouse. The clerk's duties include monitoring the impact of administrative and program changes, accepting registrations for the Maintenance Enforcement Program, processing applications for parent information sessions, preparing and disseminating information to staff, judges and the public, gathering data for program monitoring and evaluation, and helping parents with child support forms, applications and procedures. This activity also meets the criteria for PAA 4: Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms to Determine, Vary or Recalculate Child Support and PAA 5: Enforcement Activities.

Systems

Duration
1997-2001
Goal
To support the increased workload and the Child Support Service Centre.
Description
The territorial government purchased computers and applications to process data and manage the program in 1997-1998. Following a review of products and the experience of other jurisdictions, the territory selected ChildView as the software for the judges and implemented it in 1998-1999. The application has been available for general use since 1999-2000 and is used to assist clients in planning variation applications.

Training

Duration
1997-1998
Goal
To train staff to deal with variations and new support orders under the guidelines.
Description
Two training sessions were held in 1997-1998 for court clerks. The Department of Justice held information sessions on revisions to the Children's Law Act for all affected staff during 1998-1999. These sessions provided an opportunity to review and reinforce earlier training on amendments to the Divorce Act.

Parenting After Separation Program

Duration
1999-2001
Goal
To inform and educate people affected by custody and child support issues.
Description
The Department of Justice, in cooperation with the Legal Services Board, developed a parenting after separation program. The program is modelled after the Alberta and British Columbia programs, but modified to meet the legal and socio-economic realities of the North. It comprises group sessions intended to help parents move from a self-centred to a child-centred framework and improve their parenting skills. Contract staff offered two sessions a month from September to March for up to 15 people each session.

Child Support Variations

Duration
1998-2000
Goal
To help unrepresented individuals seeking to vary child support orders.
Description
The Court Services Branch delivered lunch-hour information sessions for parents who wanted to initiate, or had to respond to, a variation application. The sessions made use of the self-help packages that were designed and published in 1998-1999.

PAA 4: ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION MECHANISMS TO DETERMINE, VARY OR RECALCULATE CHILD SUPPORT

Pilot Mediation Service

Duration
2000-2001
Goal
To provide mediation services to parents.
Description
The Department of Justice is exploring the feasibility of developing a pilot mediation project in Yellowknife. An initial feasibility study has been prepared under contract. The next steps are to review implementation models and options for implementation as well as to look at training mediators to work in the program.

PAA 5: SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES

System Enhancements

Duration
1997-2000
Goal
To meet FOAEA and National Maintenance Enforcement Survey requirements, and to support monitoring.
Description
The Northwest Territories made systems enhancements in 1997-1998 to introduce changes and upgrade applications to monitor the effects of changes to enforcement mechanisms. In 1998-1999, the territory investigated the possibility of adapting system solutions developed by other jurisdictions rather than developing one of its own. Following that review, the territorial authorities selected the Prince Edward Island management information system for implementation by the Maintenance Enforcement Program. In 1999-2000, however, it concluded this approach would not meet its needs and began adapting existing applications using in-house technical support to ensure that its maintenance enforcement system could deliver the required data.

Audio Voice Response System

Duration
1997-1999
Goal
To deliver effective telephone information services across several time zones.
Description
The Maintenance Enforcement Program looked into developing an audio voice response system to provide both enforcement and guidelines-related information to the public in 1997-1998.

Maintenance Enforcement Survey

Duration
2000-2001
Goal
To deliver the territorial data required for the National Maintenance Enforcement Survey.
Description
The Department of Justice, in cooperation with the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, adapted its information system so that it could deliver the data tables needed for the National Maintenance Enforcement Survey.

PAA 7: POLICY, RESEARCH AND EVALUATION

Research and Policy

Duration
2000-2001
Goal
To propose legislative amendments dealing with recalculation of child support orders and to study the feasibility of introducing an accredited mediation program.
Description
A Court Services Division research officer researched and drafted amendments to territorial legislation to allow for the administrative recalculation of child support orders.

PAA 8: PUBLIC AWARENESS AND PROFESSIONAL TRAINING

Public Awareness and Education

Duration
1997-2001
Goal
To inform residents of the Northwest Territories about the guidelines and pilot programs associated with child support reforms.
Description
The territorial Department of Justice has continued to promote awareness and understanding of child support guidelines. Public information services have included general mail-outs, public information sessions in various locations, a toll-free line, a Web site, publication of a self-help variation package and a series of public service announcements, which have proven quite effective. The Department also provides public information on the Maintenance Enforcement Program. In 2000-2001, the Maintenance Enforcement Program explored public awareness activities that would reinforce positive behaviour and serve as incentives to parents who have been "good payors."

For more information about services and programs in the Northwest Territories, contact:

Ms. Lucy Austin
Senior Advisor, Family Law
Department of Justice of the Northwest Territories
4903–49th Street
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories X1A 2L9
Telephone: (867) 920-3362

Ms. Terry Hawkins
Administrator
Northwest Territories
Maintenance Enforcement Program
Box 1770
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories X1A 2P3
Telephone: (867) 920-3236

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